Boston Globe: Record Homeless Swamp State Shelters, Costly Motels House Overflow

From today’s Boston Globe:

Record homelessness overwhelming shelters

GREENFIELD — Record numbers of homeless families are overwhelming the state’s emergency shelter system, filling motel rooms at the cost to taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars a year.

An average of nearly 2,100 families a night — an all-time high — were temporarily housed in motel rooms in October, just about equaling the number of families in emergency shelters across the state, according to be the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

homeless-sideThe demand for shelter is so great that the state has been temporarily sending homeless families from Boston to motels in Western Massachusetts, although state officials said many have been relocated back again, closer to home.

Aaron Gornstein, the undersecretary for housing, said the surge has followed cuts in state and federal housing subsidies, soaring rents in Greater Boston, and still-high rates of unemployment and underemployment, particularly among lower-income workers . . . Continue reading 

Number of homeless Mass. families in hotels surges 

GREENFIELD, Mass. (AP) — The number of homeless Massachusetts families being placed by the state in motels and hotels has surged to an all-time high, driven in part by cuts in state and federal housing subsidies.

The state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development reports that nearly 2,100 families per night on average were temporarily housed in hotel rooms in October, a practice that costs the state tens of millions of dollars annually.

The demand is so great that some homeless families from the Boston area are being placed in western Massachusetts.

The surge has followed cuts in state and federal housing subsidies, soaring rents in the Boston area, and still-high rates of unemployment and underemployment among the poor, Aaron Gornstein, state undersecretary for housing, told The Boston Globe.

‘‘The state as a whole has recovered from the Great Recession faster than most other states, but in many ways we’re still struggling,’’ Gornstein said. ‘‘Federal budget cuts have made the situation worse.’’

Motels cost $82 per night. State spending on motels has exploded to more than $46 million from about $1 million in 2008, according to state records.

The average motel stay is about seven months, although some families live in motels for a year waiting for affordable housing, according to state housing officials.

Jim Greene, director of the Emergency Shelter Commission of Boston, said Massachusetts needs more long-term rental assistance programs that target families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Short-term solutions, like hotels, don’t work, he said.

Gretchen Vazquez and her two children were moved to a Greenfield hotel when the state subsidy for her Boston apartment ran out.

The hotel is cramped, far from her church, and her older daughter missed about two weeks of school.

‘‘I’m stuck,’’ Vazquez said. ‘‘I don’t know what’s going to happen next.’’

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